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The lowly voice recorder
The digital voice recorder is about as unsexy a gadget as you can get these days, but I recently picked up an for note taking while skiing and surveying, and found it to be very useful and practical. I decided it would be more convenient to use a dedicated voice recorder rather than trying to use the recorder feature on my RAZR or picking up an MP3 player with a recorder, especially while wearing ski gloves and potentially in bad weather.

The VN-960PC is inexpensive, small, has a large screen, has 128MB of memory, and runs off a pair of AAAs. Loaded with some lithium AAAs it had no trouble dealing with temperatures in the mid-teens F at Arapahoe Basic or with getting snow on it at Breckenridge. The Record and Stop buttons are slightly small for glove use but I was able to get the hang of them. Since the recorder has a date/time clock I could make voice notes relating to my GPS track or any photos taken without having to specify where I was since I could easily tie it together back on the PC. When taking a waypoint I could just log it with its default numeric name on the GPS (basically a one-button-push operation) and make a voice note referencing the number and the context. At the middle ("SP") quality setting the recording quality was excellent, and even the notes I took on windy chairlifts were completely understandable.

Back at base, the recorder comes with a standard mini USB cable and some management software. The software shows the date/time each note was captured, again allowing easy cross referencing with GPS location and digital camera photo timestamps. The notes are stored on the PC as standard WAV files.

An excellent buy, recommended for anyone taking notes in the field.

12/20/05Montjoux
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